There are discreet kosher logos on nearly 80% of products at the grocery, and subtle pressures are increasingly felt by producers to acquire halal certification as well, these two labels are not publicized: they remain a mystery for many people. And meat from animals slaughtered in kosher or halal fashion are still not subject to systematic, strict identification and labelling even now.
The agencies which sell religious certification services, and the companies which profit from products labelled kosher or halal, have never been subject to an objective or critical scholarly examination of their practices. We soon learn just how necessary such an examination is. Suzanne Bousquet, author of the book From Kosher to Halal, argues that these agencies push companies to adopt high certification costs that are then passed on to the consumer, a kind of “kosher tax,” with the acquired funds funnelled into the Jewish and Muslim communities. Bousquet proposes to analyze the practices of the agencies, and follow the money trail, “modestly putting down a first milestone toward a better understanding of a reality unknown to the public.”
The book’s first chapter “From Kashrut to Kosher Industry,” begins with an historical overview of the development of kashrut, the set of dietary laws dealing with the foods that Jews are permitted to eat and how those foods must be prepared according to Jewish law. Bousquet points out that dietary laws were a means by which Jews could accentuate ethnic particularism, arguing that “the ‘chosen people’ distinguish themselves in particular by the way they eat.” Bousquet demonstrates a comprehensive reading of Jewish religious texts in this area, including the Mishnah, and is very clear in their implications:
Rabbi David Bar-Hayim of the Merkaz HaRav Yeshiva confirms in a study that Judaism establishes a distinction between individuals based on religion. Meat designated “kosher,” and by extension the absolute obligation that the slaughter be carried out only by a believing Jew, comes from a conception which figures in the Hebrew Law (the halakha), whereby non-Jews (goyim) are considered animals. The terrestrial soul of non-Jews has the same type of anima as that of impure animals (such as pigs or apes): the goyim are creatures judged very inferior, and this is why meat from an animal slaughtered by them cannot be kosher.
The text then moves to an analysis of the essential rules of kashrut before providing a very interesting, and for me entirely novel, account of the origins of kosher certification in North America. Kosher certification is, we learn, an invention of early twentieth-century New York, having no real precedent in history. The practice, revealed here as little more than an elaborate scam, was created in 1919 by a New York Jew named Joseph Jacobs. Jacobs had been a school teacher in the Bronx until a failed attempt to obtain a promotion resulted in a move to the advertising industry. Taking up a position at the Yiddish-language Daily Forward (Forverts), Jacobs “got the idea of offering his services to facilitate the sale of certain products to the Yiddish-speaking community of New York, at that time 1.5 million strong and unable to understand English.” In 1919, Jacobs founded the Joseph Jacobs Advertising Agency, Inc., which still exists. In the early days of the company, kosher certification was more or less limited to kosher marketing — convincing Yiddish-speaking Jews that foods they thought were prohibited were in fact permitted under kashrut. Bousquet uses the example of coffee:
To illustrate how Jacobs worked, let us take the example of coffee. At the time, religious Jews considered this vegetable matter, a bean, and thus not kosher for Passover. Jewish grocers classed coffee with hamets (forbidden for Passover) under the erroneous belief that coffee beans were kitniyot, when they are in fact the seeds of a fruit — and not beans. So Jacobs launched a publicity campaign to explain that coffee beans are not leguminous vegetables but fruits, and consequently kosher. He found a cooperative Rabbi to confirm his point of view and published announcements in the Yiddish papers. This is how Maxwell House became kosher: without inspection or blessing.
Jacobs soon merged this kind of kosher marketing campaign with a more formal style of kosher certification rooted in Jewish communal meat regulation. This latter context is explored in detail by Bousquet, who reveals the entire subject to be rooted in Jewish gangsterism, violence, and attempted murder. The violence had its origins in the desire of the rabbis to boost their income by overseeing shechita, or kosher slaughter. Rabbis would form small kosher certification boards and, if a town or city had two or more rabbis, violent rivalry would break out between factions as each sought a monopoly on shechita funds. As part of this rivalry, each faction would place its own brand on kosher products (e.g. “U” for Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations), and encourage the boycott of products marked with a rival brand.
Joseph Jacobs saw an opportunity to bring this branding into play in his own marketing efforts, and convinced an increasing number of non-Jewish businesses to mark their products with “K” for kosher and, later, any one of the expansive range of other logos or initials that represented the various kosher certification factions. Competition between Jews persisted to some extent but, since the target was now the more lucrative outgroup market, the violence eased. Maxwell House (1923) and Coca-Cola (1937) were among the first mass market products to obtain kosher certification, but the pace didn’t really begin to pick up until the 1960s, alongside Jewish advertising campaigns that marketed kosher hot dogs and rye to non-Jews as “healthier, superior foods.” [Bousquet skewers this later in the book.] Despite the relatively minuscule numbers of observant Jewish consumers, over the next six decades the kosher certification industry has expanded in the West to cover everything from toilet paper, household soap and diapers, to pet food and suppositories. In America, up to 50% of grocery products are now kosher certified, for an estimated annual sales of 500 billion dollars.
At this point, Bousquet’s book really comes into its own. The most contentious aspect of kosher certification, aside from methods of slaughter, is the question of cost. What expenses are incurred by certification, and what impact do they have on retail prices? Here Bousquet employs detective work and penetrating logic. The author notes the mafia-like silence on this issue, pointing to a “sort of omertà regarding how much money certifiers earn from their activities, going as far as denying all profitability.” The Center for Israel and Jewish Affairs, for example, decries “mistaken beliefs” that kosher certification is a for-profit industry, arguing that costs merely cover inspection and that certification only profits the companies certified. Other interested parties have argued that “the additional costs assumed by consumers are quite minimal,” and that “rabbis make no profit from certification.” Bousquet, by contrast, points to a number of studies, including a 2011 PhD thesis, demonstrating that kosher certification brings in enough profits to be dispersed not only within certification bodies, but also Jewish schools, cultural institutions, and other Jewish communal organizations. In short, it’s quite easy to deduce that kosher certification is not only highly profitable, but that it involves a significant transfer of wealth from the general population to the Jewish population.
Bousquet describes in detail this “lucrative racket,” which involves the mass certification even of products already regarded as intrinsically kosher (e.g. virgin olive oil, frozen blueberries, coffee, detergent, dishwashing soap, toilet paper, salt, and pepper). In Bousquet’s native Canada, the kosher-certified market has expanded 64% since 2003. We learn that the situation reached such ridiculous proportions in Canada that Paul Lungen, an investigative journalist with Canadian Jewish News, conducted an eight-month investigation into kosher certification practices at the Kashrut Council of Canada (COR) that exposed numerous irregularities and abuses. These included arbitrary pricing and false declarations of what is and isn’t kosher. It was also revealed that COR reported annual revenues of over $5 million, but, despite being a registered charity, dispensed only $2,500 to charitable causes. One vegetable oil company reported that it had to cancel its kosher certification after learning that COR would charge $45,000 just to have a rabbi, possessing no meaningful qualifications in food production, attend an annual inspection of their manufacturing processes. For his efforts in reporting these facts, Lungen was quickly denounced by his co-ethnics for committing the sin of chillul HaShem, which translates as “profanation of the name of God” but actually means that a Jew has informed non-Jews of Jewish misdeeds. In other words, Lungen was declared a race traitor.
The scam runs deep, and often has links to Jewish influence in government. At least one Canadian kosher certification business, the Canadian Kosher Food Safety Initiative (CKFSI), was started thanks to a $763,650 funding grant from government minister Christian Paradis, the latter having a history of bribery allegations. The government has also permitted rabbis from organizations like CKFSI to profit from conducting general health inspections at food production sites, despite their overwhelming lack of professional or educational qualifications in the area. This has prompted economist David MacDonald from the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives to declare: “It is not the responsibility of a religious organization to determine the safety of the food you eat. … We cannot have the same level of confidence. … We will have less well-trained, less experience personnel.” Because Jews are combining their dubious “health inspections” with expensive kosher certification, production costs are expected to increase 5-7%, with the additional costs then passed on to consumers.
At less than 1% of the population in Canada and the United States, with similar representation throughout the West, it’s clear that Jews aren’t assuming the costs of the vast kosher certification enterprise, which takes up 60% to 80% of the grocery trade and has “kosherized” entire production chains. Jewish apologists for the kosher certification industry have claimed that non-Jews have come to the conclusion that kosher foods are of superior quality and that kosher means “good food” to many consumers. They argue that kosher certification is sought after by the general consumer, and that the various kosher logos are therefore an attractive attribute for any product. Bousquet points out that such claims stand in sharp contrast to university studies that have found these kosher labels “pass almost unnoticed by the general population,” many of whom have absolutely no idea what the logos actually mean.
To those that do know what the labels mean, and object to the wholesale kosherization of the food industry, Jews have a blunt response. Bousquet has a very interesting section on how Jews, especially the ADL, have used accusations of anti-Semitism to silence criticism of kosher certification and prevent meaningful investigation of its practices. In 1991, the ADL effectively created a template response to accusations of a “kosher tax” that has been used by almost every kosher certification body since. The hallmarks of this template response are:
- Declare the idea of a “kosher tax” to be a “hoax” concocted by “right wing extremists.”
- Assert that any insinuation that rabbis are enriched by kosher certification is a “conspiracy theory” dependent on “stereotypes about Jews.”
- Deny that only a small segment of the general population desires such markings.
- Repeatedly mention that the idea of a kosher tax has been promoted by “various Ku Klux Klan groups” thus making anyone uneasy to share these ideas.
Bousquet does an excellent job of interrogating the ADL’s claim that kosher certification costs are “so negligible in practical terms as to be virtually non-existent.” In response, Bousquet asks, if they are so low, why no business has ever revealed the exact figures, and why the Jewish communities which demand certification can’t pay the costs themselves. Also, asks Bousquet, if this is such a low-revenue industry, why are there 273 kosher certification agencies in the United States all competing fiercely for a slice of what is alleged to be a very meagre pie? The author then points out that COR’s revenues for 2013 were $5.4 million, with nine of its employees earning salaries of between $80,000 and $119,000, with one making between $120,000 and $159,000. All from a “virtually non-existent” income!
Despite its factual bankruptcy, the ADL template is used with alarming regularity. When Louise Mailloux, a philosophy professor and candidate for the Parti Québécois, spoke of a “religious tax” during an April 2014 electoral campaign, the Quebec branch of the Center for Israel and Jewish Affairs issued a statement accusing Mailloux of echoing “a conspiracy theory created and spread by the Ku Klux Klan” and insisting that there is no real cost behind certification and that companies get certified in order to “open up a new market segment and boost sales.” When Pierre Lacerte, a journalist, attempted to defend Mailloux and add detail to her claims, a Rabbi Zvi Hershcovich issued a statement accusing both of “bringing up a myth created by Ku Klux Klan and neo-Nazi groups. … The cost of certification is minimal. … Acquiring kosher certification is a wise business decision.” All of which goes to show that while Jews are not a creative people, what they lack in originality they make up for in sheer repetition. As such, their outcries are not so much dramatic, as possessing the ominous monotony of the drone of an approaching swarm of hornets. Undeterred by the obvious weakness of a lie, they’ll beat you with it a thousand times rather than open up the books.
Bousquet is undeterred by the swarm, and swats back at it very effectively. She follows the money relentlessly, and finds many examples of major companies and organizations (and even one rabbi) who are willing to go on record as confirming that kosher certification is expensive and that the costs are passed on to the consumer. When Jewish pressure was brought to bear on the Girl Guides to make their cookies kosher, Girl Guide Cookies replied publicly: “Although the ingredients are kosher; Dare equipment is not. The kosher certification is very expensive, over and above the annual cost required to maintain it. We are refraining from certifying these produces because the costs greatly outweigh the benefits. We are sorry, but making these cookies kosher is not a good business decision.” Didn’t these Girl Guide bigots, with their prejudiced cookies, realize they were making the same claims as the Ku Klux Klan? Apparently not. Later, however, after “lots of perseverance,” Jewish lobbying was able to achieve the desired result. How many observant Jewish consumers of Girl Guide Cookies are out there? It doesn’t matter. What matters is the Girl Guides aren’t like the Ku Klux Klan, and you can now be sure you’re eating a superior, and more expensive, food.
The book’s treatment of halal is no less fascinating and infuriating. Although there is a richness of detail, the main theme that emerges here is that Muslims have essentially followed the Jewish template, inventing a certification system that funnels money into their community while spreading their unchecked influence in the food production system. In the words of Hajj Habib Ghanim, President of the USA Halal Chamber of Commerce:
The introduction of halal certification to the United States owes much to the kosher certifiers who conducted similar, well-established activity and know the industry. We have learned from them. … We are learning from our Jewish cousins who have been operating for years. We are learning, and we have a great deal of support from them.
Much of this mutual support is rooted in the shared desire to continue ritual slaughter in Western lands where the mistreatment of animals is illegal. Bousquet’s chapter on ritual slaughter is exceptional, with an excellent section titled “From Multiculturalism to Legal Pluralism,” in which she argues that the “pernicious cultural relativism of multicultural policies has allowed religious fundamentalists quietly to impose legal pluralism.” Thus the laws for producing kosher and halal meat obey Hebrew and Islamic law and not the law of the nation. Bousquet explores these grim methods of slaughter and succinctly dismantles apologetics in their favor. Most concerning to the author is the fact that a lot of kosher and halal meat finds its way to the mass market, where it is not labeled as such. For example, Jews might ritually slaughter 100 cattle, but perhaps only 10 will pass inspection as kosher after the slaughter. This is because a rabbi conducts an examination of the major internal organs after the killing of the animal, and even a slight blemish on a lung is sufficient for the meat to be declared unclean and fit to be consumed only by goyim. It is then placed back onto a conveyor belt, butchered, packaged, and sold to an unsuspecting housewife entirely unaware that this evening’s steaks were earlier essentially tortured alive, eviscerated, mulled over, and rejected by an Ashkenazi fanatic.
The complicity of the major meat processors is revealed by Bousquet as owing much to the desire to build a thriving meat export business supplying the Middle East and North Africa, while filtering undesired meat to Western consumers without even a hint of the way in which the animal was killed. The author’s detailed and lengthy analysis in this area, too sizeable to be given adequate treatment in this review, represents a damning indictment of modern monopoly capitalism and its willing participation in Western cultural decline, a participation motivated by greed and underscored with a cold indifference to the great mass of consumers. Indeed, in an age where we are fed the lie that the consumer is king, Suzanne Bousquet’s exploration of kosher and halal certification reveals we are more like the topic’s unfortunate cattle, being mass farmed and abused for the benefit of others.
Suzanne Bousquet is to be congratulated for this brave, original, and detailed study of a subject I was quite unfamiliar with. I have no hesitation in recommending it to others with an interest in Jewish influence, the kosher and halal industries, or the interplay between multiculturalism and globalist capital. This is precisely the kind of investigative and damning literature we need, and it’s a very worthy addition to my library. If there’s a Jew out there busily preparing to ask the author just why exactly she thinks herself an expert in this area — I can assure you, she is.